A Change of Clothing

This week’s Listener crossword puzzle, “A Change of Clothing” by Elgin, is brilliant, and has a hilarious surprise ending. I wish I could talk all about it here without giving anything away, but I can’t. Let’s just say that the puzzle concerns (according to the introduction) a heist, and that there are some red herrings very ingeniously built into the puzzle, and leave it at that.

Oh, and a lot of very nice clues, too.

Even after figuring out what was going on and completing the grid in a way that satisfied all the instructions, gave me the pair of crime fighters I needed, unambiguously pointed at the culprit, and justified the title of the puzzle, I was hung up for a long while because for all this to work out, a particular four-letter combination in my final grid had to be either a word in Chambers Dictionary or a proper noun that could be found in either the Oxford Dictionary of English or Chambers Biographical Dictionary. But it didn’t seem to be in Chambers and I don’t own either of the other two reference books so can’t check in them. However, if it were somebody well known enough to make it into two reference books, he or she couldn’t be hard to track down, right? I did a Google search on the letter combination, and checked Wikipedia, and looked it up in the biographical dictionaries and other reference books that I do own, and there was nothing anywhere.

Well, it turns out that the four-letter word is in Chambers, but for some reason it’s not in the iPhone version that is what I use most often. When I pulled the actual book down from the shelf, duh, there it was. It was a variant spelling of an obsolete word, but still, there it was. That’ll teach me to rely on the completeness of the iPhone version.

Later: Double duh: Chambers Biographical Dictionary is available for searching online.

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